Yellowhammer – 2003-07 breeding

Emberiza citrinella – MELYN YR EITHIN – Breeding resident

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed10715
Breeding probable222142
Breeding possible5431
No of tetrads occupied383 (of 478)188 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads80.1%38.4%

Historically common and widespread in the county, it was still well-distributed during the 1984-88 survey, being detected in 82% of the tetrads. In the absence of comprehensive census data, three small sample areas were surveyed during 1989 and singing males recorded. On this basis extrapolation arrived at a county total of 14,000 – 15,000 territories.  However, using data from the 1988-91 National Atlas, modified by the species’ relative abundance in Pembrokeshire, a figure of about 13,000 pairs can be derived for the county.

During this time the Yellowhammer was probably decreasing and the BBS subsequently recorded a 41% decline across Wales between 1994 and 2007. The Pembrokeshire survey of 2003-07 found there had been a 50% reduction in distribution since 1988. This suggests the population had reduced to about 7,000 pairs, if no allowance is made for any decrease in density. However, field-workers found Yellowhammers to be sparsely distributed in the tetrads where they were found and an assessment suggested an average density of four pairs per tetrad was realistic. This would generate a county estimate of about 800 pairs breeding. However, in at least 10 tetrads which were visited frequently throughout the 2003-07 survey, birds located in 2003 and 2004 could not be found during 2005–2007. It therefore seems likely that the breeding population in Pembrokeshire at the end of 2007 had decreased to below 800 pairs and may be disappearing at an increasing rate.

This map shows the 1984-88 distribution in orange, with the 2003-07 distribution superimposed in black.

Large dots = confirmed breeding

Medium dots = probable breeding,

Small dots = breeding possible

Changes in agricultural practices, resulting in a huge reduction in winter stubbles and a general reduction of weeds, are thought to be a major factor in the Yellowhammers decline. A reduction in farm dung heaps has also probably contributed. As a consequence of significant national declines, the Yellow-hammer was red-listed by the review “Birds of Conservation Concern 3” (Eaton et al., 2009).   

Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007

Records extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports, which may contain more detail than shown here.

More about the Yellowhammer in Pembrokeshire

Yellowhammer – 1994

Emberiza citrinella – MELYN YR EITHIN – Breeding resident

1984-88
Breeding confirmed107
Breeding probable222
Breeding possible54
No of tetrads occupied383 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads80.1%

An extremely common resident according to Mathew (1894) and Lockley et al. (1949), the Yellowhammer still breeds throughout Pembrokeshire but is absent from deep woodland, the mountain tops and most offshore islands. The exception is Caldey, where there were four pairs in 1954 (Sage 1956), and the species is still present there (see map). In the absence of comprehensive census data, three small sample areas were surveyed during 1989 and singing males recorded. On this basis a density of 35-40 pairs per tetrad was estimated, and from the Breeding Birds Survey of 1984-1988, this would suggest a probable county total of 14,000-15,000 pairs.

Yellowhammers form small flocks from about September onwards and although absent from large areas during the winter can be plentiful in some localities. One or two visit the islands in most years, with increasing frequency at Skomer, but less often than they did 20 years ago at Skokholm.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H (1994), Birds of Pembrokeshire

SAGE, B.L. 1956. Notes on the birds of Caldey and St Margaret’s islands, Pembrokeshire. Nature in Wales 2: 333-340.

More about the Yellowhammer in Pembrokeshire

Yellowhammer – 1980s winter

Emberiza citrinella – MELYN YR EITHIN – Breeding resident

The BTO winter atlas showed that Yellowhammers were present in the majority of 10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84.

The darker the colour, the higher the relative total count for each 10km square.  The darkest blue represents over 75 birds seen in a day.

Flocks found at a good seed source provided the largest numbers.

Map data from the BTO Winter Atlas 1980. Text by GHR

Data collected by volunteers for the BTO. Lack, P. 1986 Atlas of wintering birds in Britain and Ireland. T & A.D. Poyser.

More about the Yellowhammer in Pembrokeshire

Yellowhammer – 1894

YELLOW-HAMMER Emberiza citrinella – Resident.

One of our most abundant small birds. They are believed by the Welsh people to encourage snakes to enter their nests to devour the young birds, and are on this account held by them in great aversion. In other parts of the world this species has evil things reported of it in the folk-lore, and is much persecuted.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Yellowhammer in Pembrokeshire

Yellowhammer

Emberiza citrinella – MELYN YR EITHIN – Breeding resident

Yellowhammer – 2003-07 breeding

Emberiza citrinella – MELYN YR EITHIN – Breeding resident Comparison with previous atlas: 1984-88 2003-07 Breeding confirmed 107 15 Breeding probable 222 142 Breeding possible 54 31 No of tetrads occupied 383 (of 478) 188 (of 490) Percentage of tetrads 80.1% 38.4% Historically common and widespread in the county, it was still well-distributed during the […]

Yellowhammer – 1994

Emberiza citrinella – MELYN YR EITHIN – Breeding resident 1984-88 Breeding confirmed 107 Breeding probable 222 Breeding possible 54 No of tetrads occupied 383 (of 478) Percentage of tetrads 80.1% An extremely common resident according to Mathew (1894) and Lockley et al. (1949), the Yellowhammer still breeds throughout Pembrokeshire but is absent from deep woodland, the […]

Yellowhammer – 1980s winter

Emberiza citrinella – MELYN YR EITHIN – Breeding resident The BTO winter atlas showed that Yellowhammers were present in the majority of 10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84. The darker the colour, the higher the relative total count for each 10km square.  The darkest blue represents over 75 birds seen in a day. […]

Yellowhammer – 1968-72 breeding

Red = breeding confirmed Orange = breeding probable Yellow = breeding possible Sharrock, J.T.R. (1976) The atlas of breeding birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A.D. Poyser More about the Yellowhammer in Pembrokeshire

Yellowhammer – 1949

Species account from the Birds of Pembrokeshire, 1949, by Lockley, Ingram and Salmon.

Yellowhammer – 1894

Species account from the 1894 ‘Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands’ by Rev M A Mathew